Thursday, 1 November 2007

Complaint letter to Last Worst Western

Ohhh. I needed to vent so much.

Copy of email sent to Cheif Exec of 1st Great Western..

Dear Mr Haines
Forgive my rantings below but I felt the need to bring a number of issues to your attention.
I am a regular commuter on the line between Kingham and Reading. I have an annual season ticket which I imagined at the time of purchase, would be a wise money and time saving purchase.

Unfortunately the service I use struggles to maintain an even vague adherence to the published timetable. In the last 2 weeks, the 07.18 from Kingham to London Paddington has been on time precisely once. I am forced to catch this train as it is the one the (according to published
timetables) gets me to Reading for 08.18 and then to my office for 08.30 I would catch a train from somewhere closer to home but the price of this is so prohibitive that even I (and I am reasonably paid) cannot afford it.

Due to the persistent lateness of the service, I am rarely in the office before 08.45 My job requires a certain level of commitment from me which includes a certain number of hours. In order to catch the 07.18, I raise myself from my slumber at 0600 hours and make myself ready for the day ahead, generally leaving the house by 0635 hours and arriving at the station at about 0710 hours.

You can then imagine my frustration when on a habitual basis, the train is more than 5 mins, often 10 mins and sometimes 20 mins late. This is time I would happily spend in bed rather than standing on a cold platform waiting for a train to come. When it does finally turn up, there is a string of excuses as to why the train is late, none of them satisfactory.

The return journey is worse.

I catch a variety of trains to get home - either the 1622 from Reading or the 1653 (change at Oxford) or the 1750. The 1622 is often late but I generally get a seat, The 1653 is almost never the advertised Adelante service but a 2 or 3 carriage turbo that has been yanked out of Royal Oak and pressed in to service. This makes for what can at best be described as an intimate journey with my fellow passengers.

The 1750 is a nonsense. It is always overcrowded (at least as far as
Oxford) with many people standing in the aisles and squashed into the "verstibule areas" (aka cattle class). This train is never on time. As I write, my fellow passengers are regailing me with stories of late service and uncomfortable conditions.

I can't help wondering whether these problems could be resolved by adopting a slightly less risk averse approach to Health and Safety - in my mind you could probably run trains closer together on the track and make them longer. In addition, Network Rail seems to treat timetables as more of a suggestion than a reliable service. This really can't be allowed to continue.

I understand that it is a very difficult job to try and run the trains on time but it would help if the trains left on time as a starter...

I do appreciate that these changes cost money and your organisation has probably suffered from generations of under investment but I sense that if many of your staff were to feel the commercial reality of working outside the rail industry, they might have a different attitude to the way in which they run the railways.

I look forward to hearing your responses to this and seeing the network improve.

Best regards



Anonymous said...

Dear TrainFellow'
How I feel for you. It was only this morning (on Chiltern Line) that I overheard a fellow passenger relating a story over to his office, on his mobile, about his shoddy Last Worst Western (LWW) expererience getting home last night from Paddington (a commute that was so delayed it took him until 22.30hrs to get home). He is obviously another LWW escapee like myself.

Everything you have utterred in you 'rant' to Mr Haines I am sure is factual. I too have experienced similar situations constantly throughout the Spring and Summer of 2007 (and for years before that when trains mysteriously disappeared / were cancelled probably due to lack of interest on the part of LWW). However, besides a carefuly constructed reply tiptoeing through your complaints and disatisfaction, do you really believe anything will actually be done other than possibly provide some lip service?

The real problems lay in two main areas (1) overcongestion between Paddington and Didcot (not enough capacity to enable trains to be sped down the lines that exist and to add to the problem signalling is 'knackered' and overdue for replacement. Also 'they' could get more trains on the line if the signalling was up to date using a modern system that allows 'closer running'. This would allow for more trains which in turn hopefully would mean more for cotswold line; if allotted (2)The second area is Cotswold Line specifically, as currently they do need to use longer / bigger trains to mop up the demand for trainuse and LWW's reintroduction of 125's will be a move forward but also needs investment for (a) longer platforms and yes here it comes (b) A DOUBLE TRACK between Worcester and Oxford, to provide a proper track and modern signalling to speed up the service. The last time I looked on Network Rail's web they were due to complete their feasibility study this October. Heaven knows when or how it would be implimented and only continual pressure will help the cause. I believe the main reasoning behind double tracking would be to stop critical delays on the Cotswold Line disrupting the Main Line between Didcot / Paddington ~ so not so much a priority as an irritant to other parts of LWW.

Sorry to mention this, but my Chiltern Line train this morning was 7 minutes late arriving at Banbury but somehow it was able to not only make up time but arrive ahead of time at Marylebone. You can see why I have abandoned LWW, for like most of us, we run our lives and businesses on the basis of a stable and reliable timetable of events that enables all of us to have some certainty that things will take X time to be done and function properly etc etc. On Chiltern Line, as I have said before, there is generally a train every 15 minutes down to London, so even if you are slightly late to the station there is a backup train and yet another backup in line behind that. Its the same in the evening on the way back. I can assure you that does give peace of mind and allows one to plan, not wonder which day will I get back to home in.

Commiserations, TrainMan

Loxley (aka Andy) said...

The line that made me laugh out loud was...

"The return journey is worse"

Those five words just express so much emotion!!!